Prototype telescope (PS1)
PS1, the single-mirror prototype for Pan-STARRS on Haleakala, started operatins and began its Science Mission in May 2010
PS1 started regular observing in March 2009, providing scientific date to the PS1 Scientific Consortium.
During commissioning and early scientific observing the following landmarks were noted:
- An observing rate of several hundred fields per night in five passbands was achieved.
- The IPP (Image Processing Pipeline proved capable of processing a whole night’s data (600 images) in 15 hours
- The MOPS (moving object pipeline) works well: 4000 known asteroids have been detected, plus 7 new ones which have been reported to the minor planet center.
- Nine new supernovae have been discovered.
During the first few months regular observing, concerns arose about image jitter and local atmospheric seeing effects. Although the telescope is sometimes capable of producing excellent images over the entire field with sub-arcsecond resolution, problems with image quality were detected in an unacceptably large fraction of the images PS1 was producing. It was therefore decided to suspend regular observing in September 2009 in order to address these problems.
After the repairs to the secondary mirror support structure were successfully completed, PS1 returned to regular observing in December 2009. From that time until early May 2010, PS1 collected ~25,000 science quality images. From February 13, 2010 through March 15, 2010, a "Demonstration Month" was conducted as a final proof that PS1 was ready to begin the regular survey operations for the PS1 Science Consortium (PS1SC), and produced an average of ~500 images per night from which several hundred supernova and several thousand asteroids were detected. The PS1SC science mission began officially on May 13, 2010.
Fabrication of the PS2 telescope has begun by the IfA and the telescope supplier, Advanced Mechanical and Optical Systems (AMOS). The PS2 system will reside in an existing observatory about 50 feet north of PS1 on Mount Haleakala where the University of Tokyo's Magnum telescope was previously housed. The PS2 telescope and its camera are very close in design to PS1, except for a few mechanical improvements based on our experiences with PS1, and incremental improvements to detectors, optics and camera electronics. In normal operation PS1 and PS2 will be pointed at the same patch of sky, and the resulting images will be stacked, resulting in significant improvements in signal to noise ratio and faster elimination of detector artifacts. The current schedule estimate for PS2 First Light is early 2013.
The favored location for PS4 is the site of the University of Hawaii 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea. If all the necessary permissions can be obtained, we would remove the current 2.2-meter telescope and its building, and construct PS4 inside a smaller building that has a reduced visibility and a design that blends into the background compared to the current facility. An Environmental Impact Statement is currently being prepared by the architectural company Group70.
While the project had planned to release a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and reinitiate the NHPA Section 106 process in early 2010, IfA and Project leadership have decided to delay that action for 12-18 months so we can focus our attention on utilizing our FY2010 funding to bring PS1 to full Survey Status and complete installation of PS2 in the existing LURE Observatory on Haleakala.